Gone are the days when a person with HIV had a limited span of life! Thanks to the extensive research in the field of HIV, today’s anti-retrovirals are potent inhibitors of this yet dreaded virus. Moreover with the advent of fixed dose combinations of three drugs, resulting in single tablet regimens (STRs), HIV treatment has been simplified. But the question to be asked today, is everyone who has been diagnosed with HIV, has access to drug treatment and regular viral load checks, especially with the WHO mandated Test & Treat approach? In India today, almost 80-90% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) are being managed, not treated at some 530 ART centres of NACO and the remaining PLHIV access private health care. Do we have authentic data as to how many PLHIV know their HIV status? How many PLHIV – both in the private and public sector with known HIV status are not receiving ART? And as to how many of these PLHIV who are being treated are virally suppressed? We haven’t even thought of looking at if they are happy with their treatment and the quality of healthcare. Retaining PLHIV on ART and the ART officers at the public sector ART centres is extremely crucial for managing HIV in India, as they cater to the majority of PLHIV.
Every untreated person is a potential risk in increasing the HIV infection in the society. It is worth understanding from certain other developing countries, particularly in the southern hemisphere, the way they have been coping-up with the access to ART to proportionately much larger segment of PLHIV in their respective countries.
India stands unique in this position lying in midst of Africa and Asia, which totally combines to have more than 2/3rd of all PLHIV, out of the estimated 35 million globally. Clinical trials tell us about efficacy of drugs in a controlled environment, but long term effectiveness studies are important to corroborate the clinical trials findings. This South- South Collaboration between nations of these two continents will allow exchange of knowledge towards better management of PLHIV.
India today is also the hub of extremely high quality affordable drugs that are not only used for managing people with HIV in India but also exported all across the globe. This is not just true for ARVs, but for many other therapy areas. This is possible due to the aggressive pharmaceutical sector that ensures affordable health care without compromising the quality of medicines manufactured in India.
We look forward continuing this collaborating spirit not only within India but take it forward and welcome delegates from across the globe and India to share their thoughts and experiences in making the fight against HIV truly effective for the people whom it matters the most – PLHIVA. On behalf of ASICON organising committee, I welcome you all to the 10th National Conference of AIDS Society of India – ASICON 2017 at Hyderabad from 6-8th October.